Whenever I drive across the Canada-USA border, something shifts. As I pull away from the customs booth and breathe a sigh of relief, I do more than switch cell phones. I consciously shift from metric to Random US Units, or vice versa (I’ll rant about the Random US Units System another time), and think, “Ahh. Home“.
I know. This is confusing to me as well.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a bit of an identity issue.
I’m American, born and raised. Some of the people I love the most live in and fight for America. I grew up surrounded by big portions and bigger hearts. I’m proud of many historical and social contributions that Americans have made and continue to make. I love country music, people who speak loudly and directly, and the diversty of our huge country. When I cross the border into the USA my passport matches the border guard’s uniform; I’m a citizen and that means the frustrations and limitations of living as an ex-pat are temporarily gone. I can call loved ones without paying international rates and I know how the government works. I’m usually headed to Philadelphia for much needed time laughing and eating with family. I’m home.
And then there’s Canada.
When I drive across the border I love the signs posted in English and French, and the lack of billboards. I glance at the speedometer of a car we imported from the USA and remind myself the smaller numbers are the KM/H, not the bigger ones! I’ve lived in Canada or with Canadians since 2005. For Varun and I, the majority of our experiences as adults have been tinted with Canada. Canada has been the backdrop for my romance and married life, my university and graduate degrees, my first grown-up job, the first Visa bill I had to pay…and many other landmark occurrences. Many thoughts and opinions and conversations and experiences have only been Canadian. Canadians have taught me about the logic of the metric system and the beauty of a “Salad Bowl” society that welcomes people and their cultures. When I enter, I brace myself for higher taxes and cell phones bills but feel excited to get home and jump back into real life with my understated Northern Buddies.
This is why I love the song, “Home“, by Dierks Bentley. Because when I listen to it on the radio, I can pretend it’s both of the countries I call home (I’ll admit, the video is quite American. And it made me cry). From the “wave-crashed shores” I love in Vancouver to Ellis Island, NY where my relatives “signed their names”, I’m claiming the whole of North America as home. So there.
Let’s be honest. Where ever I am, if I’m with the ones I love, I’m home.
Where’s home for you? Are you as confused as me? What makes home feel like home?!